Muslim community turns to Special Marriage Act for fair inheritance in Kerala

Muslim community turns to Special Marriage Act for fair inheritance in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Even while holding traditions tight, more members of the Muslim community have started registering marriages under the Special Marriage Act (SMA) to overcome certain conditions imposed in the Muslim inheritance law.

Details collected under the Right to Information Act from sub-registrar offices in two districts -- Kasaragod and Thrissur -- show that a total of 277 marriages were registered under SMA in the past one year. Of those, the largest number of registrations were held at Anthikad in Thrissur -- 80.

According to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, only two-thirds of the father’s property goes to daughters, if he doesn’t have a son. The rest of the property will go to his brothers.

The couple who brought the inequality existing in the Muslim inheritance law into the open — actor and lawyer C Shukkur and wife Sheena, a former pro-vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University — the change is visible in all districts. The two had remarried according to SMA in March 2023 after having been married for 29 years.

“I sought details of SMA marriages in the state from January 1, 2020, to June 2024, under RTI. On verifying the details received from these two districts, it is clear that a large number of marriages were registered under SMA post March 2023, after the registration of our marriage,” Shukkur told TNIE.

In Kasaragod district, 133 marriages were registered under SMA while 144 were registered in Thrissur.

“Details from other districts are yet to be received. As per the feedback I receive daily, more families with only daughters are now taking the legal route to avert a situation where their daughters fail to get their property after their death. I have been receiving enquiries from within the state and from the USA and the Gulf countries. In fact from wherever Malayalis are living. Many wanted to know about the legal issues,” Shukkur said. Muslim scholars admit to such a trend, which has come to their attention.

“It’s true that such a trend is there in the community. However, being a sensitive issue, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment. We need to hold further studies into this matter,” said a senior Muslim scholar from Malabar.

Social commentator M N Karassery welcomed the trend.

“It’s an injustice in Shariat that males and females don’t have the same ancestral right to property. A father’s property is not divided equally between a son and a daughter. Similarly, if a deceased person doesn’t have a son, a portion of his property will go to his brothers’ sons. Registering under the Special Marriage Act is the only immediate remedy to address this injustice,” he said.

It’s time Shariat acts are modified, he added.

V P Suhra, head of NISA, a progressive Muslim women’s group, has demanded that the inheritance should be divided equally without gender discrimination, and considering transgender persons too.

Meanwhile, as part of the ‘equality movement’, Shukkur is planning to organise a programme of couples who had married as per the MSA in Ernakulam and Thrissur.

The event is scheduled to be held in Ernakulam on October 2.

No. of Marriages registered under SMA in Thrissur and Kasaragod

Pazhayannoor - 13

Erumapetti - 7

Annamanada - 7

Andathodu - 12

Anthikad - 80

Kunnamkulam - 18

Mullassery - 1

Katoor - 6

Uduma - 6

Nileshwar - 10

Thrikkaripur - 44

Rajapuram - 8

Kasaragod - 19

Mancheswaram - 17

Hosdurg - 15

Badiyadka - 14